This section is from the American Hand Book of the Daguerreotype, by Samuel D. Humphrey. Published S. D. Humphrey, 37 Lispenard Street 1858.
To obtain a properly colored back ground is a matter of no little importance to the Daguerreotype operator. I had nearly exhausted all patience, and tried the skill of painters to obtain a back-ground that would be suitable to my purpose; but all to no avail. At last I adopted the following method, and at a cost of coloring of twenty-five cents, can now produce a back-ground far more valuable than those which had cost five dollars before.
Take common earth paint, such as is used in painting roofs; mix this with water to about the consistency of cream; then to four quarts of this mixture add about one pint of glue water (common glue dissolved in water, also about as thick as cream). This last will cause the paint to adhere to the cloth, to which it is applied with a common white-wash brush. By applying the brush on the coating while it is wet, it may be so blended that not a line can be seen, and a perfectly smooth color of any shade can be obtained. The shade of color I use is a light reddish-brown. Tripoli, rotten-stone, or any earthy matter, may be applied in the same manner.